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Luke 1:5-25

Context
Birth Announcement of John the Baptist

1:5 During the reign 1  of Herod 2  king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah who belonged to 3  the priestly division of Abijah, 4  and he had a wife named Elizabeth, 5  who was a descendant of Aaron. 6  1:6 They 7  were both righteous in the sight of God, following 8  all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. 9  1:7 But they did not have a child, because Elizabeth was barren, 10  and they were both very old. 11 

1:8 Now 12  while Zechariah 13  was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 14  1:9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, 15  to enter 16  the holy place 17  of the Lord and burn incense. 1:10 Now 18  the whole crowd 19  of people were praying outside at the hour of the incense offering. 20  1:11 An 21  angel of the Lord, 22  standing on the right side of the altar of incense, appeared 23  to him. 1:12 And Zechariah, visibly shaken when he saw the angel, 24  was seized with fear. 25  1:13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, 26  and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you 27  will name him John. 28  1:14 Joy and gladness will come 29  to you, and many will rejoice at 30  his birth, 31  1:15 for he will be great in the sight of 32  the Lord. He 33  must never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 34  1:16 He 35  will turn 36  many of the people 37  of Israel to the Lord their God. 1:17 And he will go as forerunner before the Lord 38  in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, 39  to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.”

1:18 Zechariah 40  said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? 41  For I am an old man, and my wife is old as well.” 42  1:19 The 43  angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands 44  in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring 45  you this good news. 1:20 And now, 46  because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, 47  you will be silent, unable to speak, 48  until the day these things take place.”

1:21 Now 49  the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they began to wonder 50  why he was delayed in the holy place. 51  1:22 When 52  he came out, he was not able to speak to them. They 53  realized that he had seen a vision 54  in the holy place, 55  because 56  he was making signs to them and remained unable to speak. 57  1:23 When his time of service was over, 58  he went to his home.

1:24 After some time 59  his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, 60  and for five months she kept herself in seclusion. 61  She said, 62  1:25 “This is what 63  the Lord has done for me at the time 64  when he has been gracious to me, 65  to take away my disgrace 66  among people.” 67 

Luke 1:57-80

Context
The Birth of John

1:57 Now the time came 68  for Elizabeth to have her baby, 69  and she gave birth to a son. 1:58 Her 70  neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown 71  great mercy to her, and they rejoiced 72  with her.

1:59 On 73  the eighth day 74  they came to circumcise the child, and they wanted to name 75  him Zechariah after his father. 1:60 But 76  his mother replied, 77  “No! He must be named 78  John.” 79  1:61 They 80  said to her, “But 81  none of your relatives bears this name.” 82  1:62 So 83  they made signs to the baby’s 84  father, 85  inquiring what he wanted to name his son. 86  1:63 He 87  asked for a writing tablet 88  and wrote, 89  “His name is John.” And they were all amazed. 90  1:64 Immediately 91  Zechariah’s 92  mouth was opened and his tongue 93  released, 94  and he spoke, blessing God. 1:65 All 95  their neighbors were filled with fear, and throughout the entire hill country of Judea all these things were talked about. 1:66 All 96  who heard these things 97  kept them in their hearts, 98  saying, “What then will this child be?” 99  For the Lord’s hand 100  was indeed with him.

Zechariah’s Praise and Prediction

1:67 Then 101  his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, 102 

1:68 “Blessed 103  be the Lord God of Israel,

because he has come to help 104  and has redeemed 105  his people.

1:69 For 106  he has raised up 107  a horn of salvation 108  for us in the house of his servant David, 109 

1:70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from long ago, 110 

1:71 that we should be saved 111  from our enemies, 112 

and from the hand of all who hate us.

1:72 He has done this 113  to show mercy 114  to our ancestors, 115 

and to remember his holy covenant 116 

1:73 the oath 117  that he swore to our ancestor 118  Abraham.

This oath grants 119 

1:74 that we, being rescued from the hand of our 120  enemies,

may serve him without fear, 121 

1:75 in holiness and righteousness 122  before him for as long as we live. 123 

1:76 And you, child, 124  will be called the prophet 125  of the Most High. 126 

For you will go before 127  the Lord to prepare his ways, 128 

1:77 to give his people knowledge of salvation 129  through the forgiveness 130  of their sins.

1:78 Because of 131  our God’s tender mercy 132 

the dawn 133  will break 134  upon us from on high

1:79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, 135 

to guide our feet into the way 136  of peace.”

1:80 And the child kept growing 137  and becoming strong 138  in spirit, and he was in the wilderness 139  until the day he was revealed 140  to Israel.

1 tn Grk “It happened that in the days.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

2 sn Herod was Herod the Great, who ruled Palestine from 37 b.c. until he died in 4 b.c. He was known for his extensive building projects (including the temple in Jerusalem) and for his cruelty.

3 tn Grk “of”; but the meaning of the preposition ἐκ (ek) is more accurately expressed in contemporary English by the relative clause “who belonged to.”

4 sn There were twenty-four divisions of priesthood and the priestly division of Abijah was eighth on the list according to 1 Chr 24:10.

5 tn Grk “and her name was Elizabeth.”

6 tn Grk “a wife of the daughters of Aaron.”

sn It was not unusual for a priest to have a wife from a priestly family (a descendant of Aaron); this was regarded as a special blessing.

7 tn Grk “And they.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

8 tn Grk “walking in” (an idiom for one’s lifestyle).

sn The description of Zechariah and Elizabeth as following… blamelessly was not to say that they were sinless, but that they were faithful and pious. Thus a practical righteousness is meant here (Gen 6:8; Deut 28:9).

9 tn The predicate adjective has the effect of an adverb here (BDF §243).

10 sn Elizabeth was barren. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth are regarded by Luke as righteous in the sight of God, following all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly (v. 6). With this language, reminiscent of various passages in the OT, Luke is probably drawing implicit comparisons to the age and barrenness of such famous OT personalities as Abraham and Sarah (see, e.g., Gen 18:9-15), the mother of Samson (Judg 13:2-5), and Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Sam 1:1-20). And, as it was in the case of these OT saints, so it is with Elizabeth: After much anguish and seeking the Lord, she too is going to have a son in her barrenness. In that day it was a great reproach to be childless, for children were a sign of God’s blessing (cf. Gen 1:28; Lev 20:20-21; Pss 127 and 128; Jer 22:30). As the dawn of salvation draws near, however, God will change this elderly couple’s grief into great joy and grant them the one desire time had rendered impossible.

11 tn Grk “were both advanced in days” (an idiom for old age).

12 tn Grk “Now it happened that.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

13 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Zechariah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 tn Grk “serving as priest in the order of his division before God.”

sn Zechariah’s division would be on duty twice a year for a week at a time.

15 tn Grk “according to the custom of the priesthood it fell to him by lot.” The order of the clauses has been rearranged in the translation to make it clear that the prepositional phrase κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας (kata to eqo" th" Jierateia", “according to the custom of the priesthood”) modifies the phrase “it fell to him by lot” rather than the preceding clause.

16 tn This is an aorist participle and is temporally related to the offering of incense, not to when the lot fell.

17 tn Or “temple.” Such sacrifices, which included the burning of incense, would have occurred in the holy place according to the Mishnah (m. Tamid 1.2; 3.1; 5-7). A priest would have given this sacrifice, which was offered for the nation, once in one’s career. It would be offered either at 9 a.m. or 3 p.m., since it was made twice a day.

18 tn Grk “And,” but “now” better represents the somewhat parenthetical nature of this statement in the flow of the narrative.

19 tn Grk “all the multitude.” While “assembly” is sometimes used here to translate πλῆθος (plhqo"), that term usually implies in English a specific or particular group of people. However, this was simply a large group gathered outside, which was not unusual, especially for the afternoon offering.

20 tn The “hour of the incense offering” is another way to refer to the time of sacrifice.

21 tn Grk “And an angel.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, δέ (de) has not been translated here.

22 tn Or “the angel of the Lord.” Linguistically, “angel of the Lord” is the same in both testaments (and thus, he is either “an angel of the Lord” or “the angel of the Lord” in both testaments). For arguments and implications, see ExSyn 252; M. J. Davidson, “Angels,” DJG, 9; W. G. MacDonald argues for “an angel” in both testaments: “Christology and ‘The Angel of the Lord’,” Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation, 324-35.

23 sn This term is often used to describe a supernatural appearance (24:34; Acts 2:3; 7:2, 30, 35; 9:17; 13:31; 16:9; 26:16).

24 tn The words “the angel” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

25 tn Or “and he was afraid”; Grk “fear fell upon him.” Fear is common when supernatural agents appear (1:29-30, 65; 2:9; 5:8-10; 9:34; 24:38; Exod 15:16; Judg 6:22-23; 13:6, 22; 2 Sam 6:9).

26 tn The passive means that the prayer was heard by God.

sn Your prayer has been heard. Zechariah’s prayer while offering the sacrifice would have been for the nation, but the answer to the prayer also gave them a long hoped-for child, a hope they had abandoned because of their old age.

27 tn Grk “a son, and you”; καί (kai) has not been translated. Instead a semicolon is used in the translation for stylistic reasons.

28 tn Grk “you will call his name John.” The future tense here functions like a command (see ExSyn 569-70). This same construction occurs in v. 31.

snDo not be afraid…you must call his name John.” This is a standard birth announcement (see Gen 16:11; Isa 7:14; Matt 1:21; Luke 1:31).

29 tn Grk “This will be joy and gladness.”

30 tn Or “because of.”

31 tn “At his birth” is more precise as the grammatical subject (1:58), though “at his coming” is a possible force, since it is his mission, as the following verses note, that will really bring joy.

32 tn Grk “before.”

33 tn Grk “and he”; because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the conjunction καί (kai) has not been translated here. Instead a new English sentence is begun in the translation.

34 tn Grk “even from his mother’s womb.” While this idiom may be understood to refer to the point of birth (“even from his birth”), Luke 1:41 suggests that here it should be understood to refer to a time before birth.

sn He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. This is the language of the birth of a prophet (Judg 13:5, 7; Isa 49:1; Jer 1:5; Sir 49:7); see 1:41 for the first fulfillment.

35 tn Grk “And he.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

36 sn The word translated will turn is a good summary term for repentance and denotes John’s call to a change of direction (Luke 3:1-14).

37 tn Grk “sons”; but clearly this is a generic reference to people of both genders.

38 tn Grk “before him”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

39 sn These two lines cover all relationships: Turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children points to horizontal relationships, while (turn) the disobedient to the wisdom of the just shows what God gives from above in a vertical manner.

40 tn Grk “And Zechariah.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

41 tn Grk “How will I know this?”

42 tn Grk “is advanced in days” (an idiom for old age).

43 tn Grk “And the.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

44 tn Grk “the one who is standing before God.”

45 tn Grk “to announce these things of good news to you.”

46 tn Grk “behold.”

47 sn The predicted fulfillment in the expression my words, which will be fulfilled in their time takes place in Luke 1:63-66.

48 sn Silent, unable to speak. Actually Zechariah was deaf and mute as 1:61-63 indicates, since others had to use gestures to communicate with him.

49 tn Grk “And.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.

50 tn The imperfect verb ἐθαύμαζον (eqaumazon) has been translated as an ingressive imperfect.

51 tn Or “temple.” See the note on the phrase “the holy place” in v. 9.

52 tn Grk “And when.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

53 tn Grk “and they.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

54 tn That is, “he had had a supernatural encounter in the holy place,” since the angel came to Zechariah by the altar. This was not just a “mental experience.”

55 tn Or “temple.” See the note on the phrase “the holy place” in v. 9.

56 tn Grk “and,” but the force is causal or explanatory in context.

57 tn Grk “dumb,” but this could be understood to mean “stupid” in contemporary English, whereas the point is that he was speechless.

58 tn Grk “And it happened that as the days of his service were ended.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

59 tn Grk “After these days.” The phrase refers to a general, unspecified period of time that passes before fulfillment comes.

60 tn Or “Elizabeth conceived.”

61 sn The text does not state why Elizabeth withdrew into seclusion, nor is the reason entirely clear.

62 tn Grk “she kept herself in seclusion, saying.” The participle λέγουσα (legousa) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

63 tn Grk “Thus.”

64 tn Grk “in the days.”

65 tn Grk “has looked on me” (an idiom for taking favorable notice of someone).

66 sn Barrenness was often seen as a reproach or disgrace (Lev 20:20-21; Jer 22:30), but now at her late age (the exact age is never given in Luke’s account), God had miraculously removed it (see also Luke 1:7).

67 tn Grk “among men”; but the context clearly indicates a generic use of ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo") here.

68 tn Grk “the time was fulfilled.”

69 tn The words “her baby” are not in the Greek text, but have been supplied for clarity.

70 tn Grk “And her.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

71 tn Grk “had magnified his mercy with her.”

72 tn The verb συνέχαιρον (sunecairon) is an imperfect and could be translated as an ingressive force, “they began to rejoice.”

73 tn Grk “And it happened that.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

74 sn They were following OT law (Lev 12:3) which prescribed that a male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day.

75 tn This could be understood as a conative imperfect, expressing an unrealized desire (“they were trying to name him”). It has been given more of a voluntative nuance in the translation.

76 tn Grk “And,” but with clearly contrastive emphasis in context.

77 tn Grk “his mother answering, said.” The combination of participle and finite verb is redundant in English and has been simplified to “replied” in the translation.

78 tn This future passive indicative verb has imperatival force and thus has been translated “he must be named.”

79 snNo! He must be named John.” By insisting on the name specified by the angel, Elizabeth (v. 60) and Zechariah (v. 63) have learned to obey God (see Luke 1:13).

80 tn Grk “And they.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

81 tn The word “but” is not in the Greek text but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

82 tn Grk “There is no one from your relatives who is called by this name.”

83 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the consequential nature of the action described.

84 tn Grk “his”; the referent (the baby) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

85 sn The crowd was sure there had been a mistake, so they appealed to the child’s father. But custom was not to be followed here, since God had spoken. The fact they needed to signal him (made signs) shows that he was deaf as well as unable to speak.

86 tn Grk “what he might wish to call him.”

87 tn Grk “And he.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

88 sn The writing tablet requested by Zechariah would have been a wax tablet.

89 tn Grk “and wrote, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant is English and has not been translated.

90 sn The response, they were all amazed, expresses a mixture of surprise and reflection in this setting where they were so certain of what the child’s name would be.

91 tn Grk “And immediately.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

92 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Zechariah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

93 sn The mention of both mouth and tongue here is a figure called zeugma and emphasizes that the end of the temporary judgment came instantly and fully upon Zechariah’s expression of faith in naming the child. He had learned to trust and obey God during his short period of silence. He had learned from his trial.

94 tn “Released” is implied; in the Greek text both στόμα (stoma) and γλῶσσα (glwssa) are subjects of ἀνεῴχθη (anewcqh), but this would be somewhat redundant in English.

95 tn Grk “And all.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

sn Fear is the emotion that comes when one recognizes something unusual, even supernatural, has taken place.

96 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. A new sentence was begun at this point in the translation because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence.

97 tn Grk “heard them”; the referent (these things, from the previous verse) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

98 tn Grk “heart.” The term “heart” (καρδία, kardia) could also be translated as “mind,” or “thoughts,” and the entire phrase be rendered as “kept them in mind,” “thought about,” or the like. But the immediate context is clearly emotive, suggesting that much more is at work than merely the mental processes of thinking or reasoning about “these things.” There is a sense of joy and excitement (see the following question, “What then will this child be?”) and even fear. Further, the use of καρδία in 1:66 suggests connections with the same term in 2:19 where deep emotion is being expressed as well. Therefore, recognizing both the dramatic nature of the immediate context and the literary connections to 2:19, the translation renders the term in 1:66 as “hearts” to capture both the cognitive and emotive aspects of the people’s response.

99 tn Or “what manner of child will this one be?”

100 sn The reference to the Lords hand indicates that the presence, direction, and favor of God was with him (Acts 7:9b).

101 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

102 tn Grk “and he prophesied, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant and has not been translated.

sn Prophesied. The reference to prophecy reflects that Zechariah is enabled by the Spirit to speak God’s will. He does so in this case through a praise psalm, which calls for praise and then gives the reason why God should be praised.

103 sn The traditional name of this psalm, the “Benedictus,” comes from the Latin wording of the start of the hymn (“Blessed be…”).

104 sn The verb come to help can refer to a visit, but can also connote concern or assistance (L&N 85.11).

105 tn Or “has delivered”; Grk “has accomplished redemption.”

sn Has redeemed is a reference to redemption, but it anticipates the total release into salvation that the full work of Messiah will bring for Israel. This involves both spiritual and material benefits eventually.

106 tn Grk “and,” but specifying the reason for the praise in the psalm.

107 sn The phrase raised up means for God to bring someone significant onto the scene of history.

108 sn The horn of salvation is a figure that refers to the power of Messiah and his ability to protect, as the horn refers to what an animal uses to attack and defend (Ps 75:4-5, 10; 148:14; 2 Sam 22:3). Thus the meaning of the figure is “a powerful savior.”

109 sn In the house of his servant David is a reference to Messiah’s Davidic descent. Zechariah is more interested in Jesus than his own son John at this point.

110 tn Grk “from the ages,” “from eternity.”

111 tn Grk “from long ago, salvation.”

112 sn The theme of being saved from our enemies is like the release Jesus preached in Luke 4:18-19. Luke’s narrative shows that one of the enemies in view is Satan and his cohorts, with the grip they have on humanity.

113 tn The words “He has done this” (referring to the raising up of the horn of salvation from David’s house) are not in the Greek text, but are supplied to allow a new sentence to be started in the translation. The Greek sentence is lengthy and complex at this point, while contemporary English uses much shorter sentences.

114 sn Mercy refers to God’s loyal love (steadfast love) by which he completes his promises. See Luke 1:50.

115 tn Or “our forefathers”; Grk “our fathers.” This begins with the promise to Abraham (vv. 55, 73), and thus refers to many generations of ancestors.

116 sn The promises of God can be summarized as being found in the one promise (the oath that he swore) to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3).

117 tn This is linked back grammatically by apposition to “covenant” in v. 72, specifying which covenant is meant.

118 tn Or “forefather”; Grk “father.”

119 tn Again for reasons of English style, the infinitival clause “to grant us” has been translated “This oath grants” and made the beginning of a new sentence in the translation.

120 tc Many important early mss (א B L W [0130] Ë1,13 565 892 pc) lack “our,” while most (A C D [K] Θ Ψ 0177 33 Ï pc) supply it. Although the addition is most likely not authentic, “our” has been included in the translation due to English stylistic requirements.

121 tn This phrase in Greek is actually thrown forward to the front of the verse to give it emphasis.

122 sn The phrases that we…might serve him…in holiness and righteousness from Luke 1:74-75 well summarize a basic goal for a believer in the eyes of Luke. Salvation frees us up to serve God without fear through a life full of ethical integrity.

123 tn Grk “all our days.”

124 sn Now Zechariah describes his son John (you, child) through v. 77.

125 tn Or “a prophet”; but since Greek nouns can be definite without the article, and since in context this is a reference to the eschatological forerunner of the Messiah (cf. John 1:17), the concept is better conveyed to the English reader by the use of the definite article “the.”

126 sn In other words, John is a prophet of God; see 1:32 and 7:22-23, 28.

127 tc Most mss, especially the later ones (A C D L Θ Ψ 0130 Ë1,13 33 Ï sy), have πρὸ προσώπου κυρίου (pro proswpou kuriou, “before the face of the Lord”), but the translation follows the reading ἐνώπιον κυρίου (enwpion kuriou, “before the Lord”), which has earlier and better ms support (Ì4 א B W 0177 pc) and is thus more likely to be authentic.

128 tn This term is often translated in the singular, looking specifically to the forerunner role, but the plural suggests the many elements in that salvation.

sn On the phrase prepare his ways see Isa 40:3-5 and Luke 3:1-6.

129 sn John’s role, to give his people knowledge of salvation, is similar to that of Jesus (Luke 3:1-14; 5:31-32).

130 sn Forgiveness is another major Lukan theme (Luke 4:18; 24:47; Acts 10:37).

131 tn For reasons of style, a new sentence has been started in the translation at this point. God’s mercy is ultimately seen in the deliverance John points to, so v. 78a is placed with the reference to Jesus as the light of dawning day.

132 sn God’s loyal love (steadfast love) is again the topic, reflected in the phrase tender mercy; see Luke 1:72.

133 sn The Greek term translated dawn (ἀνατολή, anatolh) can be a reference to the morning star or to the sun. The Messiah is pictured as a saving light that shows the way. The Greek term was also used to translate the Hebrew word for “branch” or “sprout,” so some see a double entendre here with messianic overtones (see Isa 11:1-10; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12).

134 tn Grk “shall visit us.”

135 sn On the phrases who sit in darkness…and…death see Isa 9:1-2; 42:7; 49:9-10.

136 tn Or “the path.”

137 tn This verb is imperfect.

138 tn This verb is also imperfect.

139 tn Or “desert.”

140 tn Grk “until the day of his revealing.”



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